BMW – Product Life Cycle
“Speaking of successful history: The automobile was invented in Germany about 120 years ago – not by us by the way. But that is another story. We have however, shaped the development of the automobile – for years and decades. Crucial, trendsetting innovations came and continue to come from BMW, from BMW Group’s excellent engineers. That much about history. The world has changed. And BMW Group needs to change as well (Reithofer, 2008).” When Dr. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management for BMW AG, addressed shareholders during their annual meeting on May 8, 2008, he carefully acknowledged the strong financial foundation of the company, the three world-renowned brands it represented and the fact that it is the most innovative and technological leader in the automobile industry. However, despite such accolades, he carefully laid out a plan for change and direction that would continue the success of the company through 2020 (Reithofer, 2008). Such bold acknowledgments of success combined with the continual desire to stretch above competitors could be a main indicator behind the dissimilarities between the product life cycle shown in figure 11-1 and that of BMW. The figure shows four life stages of every product, Introduction, Growth, Maturity and Decline. According to vice president of marketing for BMW, Jim McDowell, the average product life cycle for a BMW (depending on the series) is around seven years. However, they prefer to concentrate efforts around Introduction and Growth versus an overall focus of all life stages (Kerin, Hartley & Rudelius, 2000, p.304). By consistently introducing new models of the same product lines customers are able to enjoy similar, yet updated products, throughout the lifespan of the series. This strategic thinking and use of the product life cycle figure is different from that of other automobile makers. Competitors prefer to introduce one vehicle and move it through the life cycle without...
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